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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Jun 8;101(23):8643-8. Epub 2004 May 24.

An actin-like gene can determine cell polarity in bacteria.

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  • 1Department of Developmental Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.

Abstract

Achieving proper polarity is essential for cellular function. In bacteria, cell polarity has been observed by using both morphological and molecular markers; however, no general regulators of bacterial cell polarity have been identified. Here we investigate the effect on cell polarity of two cytoskeletal elements previously implicated in cell shape determination. We find that the actin-like MreB protein mediates global cell polarity in Caulobacter crescentus, although the intermediate filament-like CreS protein influences cell shape without affecting cell polarity. MreB is organized in an axial spiral that is dynamically rearranged during the cell cycle, and MreB dynamics may be critical for the determination of cell polarity. By examining depletion and overexpression strains, we demonstrate that MreB is required both for the polar localization of the chromosomal origin sequence and the dynamic localization of regulatory proteins to the correct cell pole. We propose that the molecular polarity inherent in an actin-like filament is translated into a mechanism for directing global cell polarity.

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